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Helen Dewdney & Rob Rinder – exclusive interview Part 1

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow talks to Rob Rinder

I had the great pleasure of chatting with Rob Rinder in a series of exclusive interviews. He is extremely knowledgeable, very warm and open. And he can talk big time! Rob spoke about life as a barrister, in the media and his own personal complaining habits.

Rob Rinder – From Barrister to TV Judge

Today we start with talking about his life before the media.

Robert Rinder and Helen Dewdney on Zoom

How did you become a barrister?

Watch the interview to see how Rob started on the path to become a barrister. He also talks about why his mentees could not do it that way now.

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow about how he became a barrister

What are your thoughts on the barriers on diversity in law and what needs to be done?

Rob touched on this in the previous question and I was keen to explore his opinions of the issues more. He talked at length about how  some things are getting better and others worse.

He even reveals who he thinks and hopes will be the first female Lord Chief Justice!

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow about diversity in the legal profession

What was your most interesting case?

This was… really very interesting! Rob talked about a couple of his high profile historic cases. It was fascinating to hear Rob’s perceptions of people and processes involved. His cases included gang-related violence and unsupported young soldiers in Iraq.

What's the most interesting case Rob Rinder has been involved in?

Did you say “lips moving still talking” or “you Moron” in court?

“You moron” was often used by Rob on the programme Judge Rinder and always raised a laugh both in the mock courtroom and for viewers at home. However, it is important to state, in case you don’t watch the video, that neither Rob nor I use the word “moron” any more. The reason for this is provided here.

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow about how he spoke to clients and staff

Did you ever have a time when you felt  or knew your clients weren’t telling you 100% of the truth and you had difficulty defending them?

This is a question that people often want to ask lawyers and barristers! Rob makes some clear differentiations and provides some intriguing perspectives.

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow about perspectives of clients truth

Will you ever return to being a barrister?

Rob spoke briefly (strange but true!) about this and touched upon his charity work. He actually does a great deal and it is important to him.

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow about returning to being a barrister

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney about empowering people

Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney about empowering people

Part 2 Rob talks about his media career, the highlights and what’s next

Rob talks about his complaining habits

Be empowered to assert your consumer rights!

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Rob Rinder talks to Helen Dewdney about empowering people

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ADR Ombudsman Business Latest News Politics public figures interview series Topical

Talking Trading Standards – with Leon Livermore, former head of CTSI

I talk with former CEO of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). Leon Livermore, in a series of  interviews. In the first one we discuss his work at CTSI.

Leon in his kitchen

What is the CTSI?

Leon Livermore was the CEO of the CTSI, for almost 8 years until March 2021. The CTSI works with the Government, UK and EU Parliamentary institutions, businesses, consumer organisations and other regulatory bodies to maintain and improve customer protection. It is also responsible for reinforcing fair markets and supporting businesses in their legal duties, competitiveness and success.

Businesses need to be aware of/members of the CTSI as it helps them understand their legal obligations and enhances their reputation, profile and performance.

I’ve met him a few times at various events and sort of got on! I say “sort of” because over the years I’ve co-written two research reports on Alternative Dispute Resolution. (ADR) [1]. Both of these were highly critical of the CTSI and CAA, in particular, for their approval and monitoring of ADR schemes.

So I thought it would be interesting to have a chat about his time at CTSI and challenge him on ADR too!

When The Complaining Cow chatted with the former CTSI CEO Leon Livermore

 

The forum meeting Leon refers to in that clip was replicated:

How approval bodies are failing to properly approve and monitor Alternative Dispute Resolution -

 

Pride and enjoyment

But we started with the easy stuff! I asked Leon what achievement he was most proud of and what he had enjoyed the most during his time at CTSI. He was most proud of achieving chartered status, having applied for this a number of times, and having to sort out qualifications and other issues. This status placed the profession on the same footing as others and clearly gives CTSI the mandate from the UK Government (it is awarded by HM the Queen through the privy Council) to speak with authority on all matters of Trading Standards and competence.

He enjoyed the work involved with introducing and implementing the CTST-Approved Codes of Practice.

Leon Livermore ex CTSI CEO talks about his proudest achievements

The challenges of regulation and possible solutions – Challenges born of crisis but soon forgotten

When asked what the biggest challenge was, Leon was highly critical of the Government and the current regulatory system. He spoke of Grenfell and of Whirlpool and said how, at the time of the foot and mouth crisis, money was heavily invested in animal health and welfare which was subsequently reduced because people lose that collective memory for past disasters.

“Take 60-70% out of the regulatory network, no-one notices until it goes wrong.”

It doesn’t make sense to have around 220 individual local Trading Standards services now, he says. That model was designed when everyone shopped locally and they obviously don’t now! There is a disconnect, with Government saying that local Trading Standards should undertake the consumer-facing work but localities not having the funding to carry out that work. Recognising that no-one is going to change the structure of Trading Standards, he calls for accountability at the level of Central Government. Grenfell and Whirlpool brought a focus on safety and a Minister was put in place who could be held to account.

Leon Livermore former CTSI CEO talks with The Complaining Cow about challenges of working in CTSI.

Whirlpool drier recall – more spin than real action?

We discussed our joint contempt for how the Whirlpool situation was left to the local Trading Standards department in Peterborough when it was a national problem. I wrote about Whirlpool a lot on my blog, including a report in 2018 which brought together a number of Freedom of Information Requests and statements from relevant bodies. Whirlpool – The tumble dryer story without the spin. Leon spoke about having to sit “with the bad guys” in a meeting with BEIS (Department for Business, Enterprise, Industrial Strategy (I call them BEIGE!) and having to try and justify the decision made by the local authority, when it should never have been left to them. He also spoke of how CTSI “…called for a full recall ahead of Which? and anyone else” and that this was at the same time as Peterborough Trading Standards department was giving different advice to Whirlpool.

Although there was nothing wrong with the advice they gave, which was their job to do, it just “didn’t pass that mum’s testIt didn’t sit right but it is hard for a local regulator that is exposed to so much risk to follow the letter of the law, he said. He argues that this is when the national regulator needs to come in and say what is in the best interests of consumers and provide the quicker more simple solution

In 2018 the Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) was established on the back of the Whirlpool events. Leon praised the set-up of the Food Standards Agency and their work with local authorities and hopes that the OPSS will work in a similar fashion and so if something similar ever happens again then work will be quicker. But he is concerned that faulty and dangerous machines are still being used. He wants a system that protects people more efficiently but that people’s memories are so short!

Leon Livermore former CTSI CEO discusses the Whirlpool events with Helen Dewdney

Next time in the interview series

Look out for the next episode where Leon and I talk ADR! Having had good debates, arguments and differences of opinion over the years, what does he think now? What will we agree on and what did he think went wrong. Most importantly, how could the ADR scene be improved?

Notes

[1] These reports were:

Ombudsman Omnishambles:  Serious unresolved issues affecting the operation of the ombudsman ADR system in the UK

and

More Ombudsman Omnishambles: The UK ADR landscape 20 months on…

 

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